Tag Archive for Anxiety

HERBS TO LIVE BY… Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm. The herb of many talents. This is one of the few herbs known as a veritable ‘medicine chest’. It’s actions are many. It’s mild, yet potent, acting almost like an herbal blend all by itself. However, in a herbal blend it has a reputation of being a powerful potentiator for the other herbs. Lemon Balm is definitely a “must have” herb for every apothecary.

COMMON NAME: Lemon Balm, Sweet Balm, Honey Balm, Bee Balm, Balm

LATIN NAME: Melissa officinalis

FAMILY: Lamiaceae (Mint)

PLANT PARTS USED: Leaf, Essential Oil

ENERGETICS: Warming (Ayurveda) or Cooling (TCM & Western Herbalism); Moistening

TASTE: Sour, “Lemon-y”, Aromatic

ACTIONS: Anti-depressant, Anti-spasmodic, Anti-viral, Carminative, Cholegogue, Diaphoretic, Emmenogogue (mild), Hepatic, Hypnotic, , Memory/Cognition Enhancer, Nervine, Sedative, Spasmolytic, Trophorestorative, Beneficial cardiovascular effects: Antiarrhythmogenic, Hypotensive, Infarct Size-Reducing, Negative Chronotropic & Dromotropic, Sedative Stimulation of Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthesis, Styptic, Vasorelaxant, Vulnerary

SYMPTOMS:
Internal Use Anxiety, Cold, Colic, Depression, Digestion (poor), Excitability, Fever, Flu, Gas/bloating, Graves Disease, Headache, Heart Palpitations, Herpes Viruses, Hyperactivity, Hypertension, Hyperthyroidism, Memory and Cognition Booster (in low to moderate doses only), Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Insomnia, Delayed Menstruation, Nausea, Restlessness, Stomach Cramps, Teething, Urinary Infections, Viral Infection

The juice of balm glueth together greene wounds.

John Gerard, English Herbalist

Topical Use Apply the leaves to skin diseases and wounds, including chicken pox eruptions, psoriasis, eczema and venomous stings.

It is now recognized as a scientific fact that the balsamic oils of aromatic plants make excellent surgical dressings: they give off ozone and thus exercise anti-putrescent effects. Being chemical hydrocarbons , they contain so little oxygen that in wounds dressed with the fixed balsamic herbal oils, the atomic germs of disease are starved out, and the resinous part of these balsamic oils, as they dry upon the sore or wound, seal it up and effectually exclude all noxious air.

Mrs. M. Grieve

ABOUT: Lemon Balm is a herbaceous perennial plant in the mint family. When it flowers it is an attractant for bees, hence the name “bee balm”. Originally, it comes from Greece and was spread by the Romans in their travels. It is most commonly considered a native of Europe, central Asia, and Iran.

Lemon balm… “Caus(es) the mind and heart to become merry.”

~ Nicolas Culpepper, British Botanist, Herbalist & Physician (1616-1654)

Clinical trials have revealed some of the positive effects of Lemon Balm due to its ability to stimulate the neurotransmitter acetylcholine receptors. This affects mood, memory, sleep and cognition. It also stimulates GABA A receptors which have significant physiological and therapeutic implications due to Lemon balm’s ability to inhibit certain responses in the Central Nervous System and throughout the body. GABA’s ability to attach to these receptors plays a significant role in modulating anxiety, fear and stress.

Lemon Balm has traditionally been known to relieve heart palpitations, this has also been demonstrated clinically in humans. It appears that its polyphenols have antioxidant properties and the ability to scavenge free radicals. It ameliorates oxidative stress, has anti-inflammatory effects, activates M2 and antagonism of β1 receptors in the heart, is able to block voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels, stimulates endothelial nitric oxide synthesis, prevents fibrotic changes, and more.1

There are herbalists who assert that Lemon Balm has the ability to normalize thyroid hormones. Scientific studies generally look at Lemon Balm’s ability to normalize hyperthyroid conditions such as Grave’s Disease but do not generally consider its balancing properties for the underactive thyroid.

DOSE:
Oral = Tincture 2-6 dropperfuls 3x per day
Infusion (dried or fresh)= 2-3 TSPS herb per Cup 2-3 times per day

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Using Lemon Balm as a whole herb carries no significant contraindications. However, as is it a known potentiator when used with herbs it would be wise to use it apart from pharmaceuticals as well. Additionally, its sedative properties should be considered when driving or operating heavy machinery – especially at the higher dosages. It is considered safe when used in moderation during pregnancy.

FOOD ENHANCEMENT: Beverages, add a few leaves to salad, soups, sauces, marinades, etc.

Sources:

Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine by David Hoffman

A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve F.R.H.S

HERBS TO LIVE BY… Chamomile

COMMON NAME: Chamomile, German Chamomile, Blue Chamomile, Camomilla

LATIN NAME: Matricaria recutita, Matricaria chamomilla

FAMILY: Astraceae

PLANT PART USED: Dried Flowers

ENERGETICS: Cooling, Drying

TASTE: Slightly Sweet, Floral, Fruity (apple-like scent)

The actions of German Chamomile are gentle and slow. However, it’s effects can be expected to be long-lasting when used consistently and in moderation over a lengthy period of time.

PRIMARY ACTIONS: Antioxidant, Antispasmodic, Anxiolytic, Astringent, Carminative, Diaphoretic, Hypnotic, Hypocholestrolemic, Hypoglycemic, Inflammation Modulator, Nervine (Anti-Anxiety & Antidepressant), Nutritive, Sedative (mild), Spasmolytic, Vulnerary

SECONDARY ACTIONS: Anti-Inflammatory, Bitter, Antimicrobial, Nervous System Trophorestorative

SYMPTOMS:
Internal Use – Anxiety, Depression, Irritability, Restlessness; Colic, Spastic Constipation, Diarrhea, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Gas/Bloating, GI Cramps, GI Ulcers, Indigestion, Nausea, GERD; Bacterial Infections of the Skin, Burning Mouth Syndrome, Common Cold, Gout, Hay Fever, Menstrual Disorders, Migraines (non aura), Neuralgia, Muscle Spasms, Nerve Pain, Rheumatic Pain, Sciatica

Topical Use – Bacterial Infections of the Oral Cavity & Gums, Boils/Carbuncles, Skin Irritation and Inflammation, Blocked Tear Ducts, Bruises, Burns, Canker Sores, Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye), Diaper Rash, Ear & Eye Infections, Eczema, Eye Irritations, Hemorrhoids, Mastitis, Menstrual Pain, Nasal Inflammation, Poison Ivy, Teething, Wounds

ABOUT: Chamomile is perhaps the most popular herbs used medicinally in the world today. It is native to southern and eastern Europe. In ancient history Chamomile was a medicinal used by the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. It’s medicinal use dates back at least 5,000 years.

Modern science is only beginning to uncover the mechanisms of German Chamomile but have found it beneficial for such conditions as migraines (without aura), burning mouth syndrome (which worsens under stress), enhance overall sleep quality (although not proven to help insomnia to date), and General Anxiety Disorder in long-term studies. However, this did not appear to reduce the rate of relapse when Chamomile was removed. It is likely that the studies were too short only being 12 or 26 weeks. Chamomile also appears to be antidepressant as well as beneficial in mitigating anxiety.

Studies investigating the role of Chamomile in dysmenorrhea and in the reduction of menstrual bleeding have found that oral Chamomile was more effective than NSAIDs as a pain-reliever and had a positive effect at reducing blood flow.

The chemical chamazulene has demonstrated an ability to significantly reverse the inflammation that accompanies osteoarthritis.

Chamomile also may be helpful in helping with obesity and metabolic syndrome. It improves insulin sensitivity and reduces glucose intolerance. The polyphenols in Chamomile appear to be effective at protecting against oxidative stress-related diseases such as metabolic syndrome (diabetes II) and obesity. These antioxidants appear to transfer into the plants essential oils as well. Certain studies have found Chamomile to be inhibitive to the digestion of carbohydrates and absorption of glucose in the intestines. Additionally, it demonstrates hypoglycemic and hypocholesterolemic actions.

This statement written into one study on obesity and metabolic syndrome is very revealing about the synergistic nature of plants remedials versus isolated components.

“Chamomile flowers contain a wide range of polyphenolic compounds and essential oils that possess various biological activities including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and energy metabolism modulating effects. Due to these properties chamomile preparations can be effectively used for obesity prevention and treatment. Whole chamomile extract seems to be more effective than isolated individual components since the latter show some differences in cellular and protein targets and together may demonstrate synergetic effects.”

Bayliak MM, Dmytriv TR, Melnychuk AV, Strilets NV, Storey KB, Lushchak VI.
Chamomile as a potential remedy for obesity and metabolic syndrome.
EXCLI J. 2021 Jul 26;20:1261-1286. doi: 10.17179/excli2021-4013.
PMID: 34602925; PMCID: PMC8481792.

DOSE:
Oral = Tincture, 2-5 dropperfuls/ml (20 drops/ml), three times per day
Infusion = 1 Tbsp./C, two to four times per day
Topical = Baths, washes, infused oil, diluted essential oil; as needed

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Generally, people tolerate chamomile well when consumed in moderation. It is not advised to take high doses during the first trimester of pregnancy. Sensitivity may occur in those allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family such as daisies, chrysanthemums, marigold, or ragweed.

Although uncommon, side-effects have been known to include allergic reactions such as skin irritation, itching, rash, redness or swelling when applied topically (rarely anaphylaxis), nausea and dizziness.

Chamomile has potential to interact with certain drugs (especially when over-consumed) such as the blood thinner Warfarin, NSAIDs, Naproxen, antiplatelet medications, and Cyclosporine used in transplant patients to prevent rejection of the organ. Check with your physician to rule out the possibility of drug-herb interactions.

One final thought. While the mechanisms are not understood by science, it has verified that Mexican American women who use Chamomile have a reduction in all cause mortality. Science continues to search for the pathways that explain this occurrence. However, it does not surprise me in the least that an unassuming herb with the power to reduce anxiety and relieve depression in this stress-filled world would humbly and quietly boost longevity in those who esteem its simplicity. May I offer you some Chamomile?

Sources:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlmmigraine.nih.gov/29849976/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19593179/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27912875/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3600408/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5710842/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC8242407/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC8481792/
https://academic.oup.com/bbb/article/84/2/402/5955611?login=true
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16628544/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5181385/

HERBS TO LIVE BY… Oatstraw & Milky Oats

COMMON NAME: Oatstraw; Milky Oats, Oats Flowering Tops; Oats

LATIN NAME: Avena sativa

FAMILY: Poaceae

PLANT PART USED: Stems (Oatstraw) & Premature Seeds (Milky Oats)

ENERGETICS: Neutral to cooling, moistening

TASTE: Sweet

PRIMARY ACTIONS: Antidepressant, Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory (topically as colloidal oatmeal), Anti-insomnia, Antispasmodic, Anxiolytic, Cardiotonic, Capillary-Strengthening, Diuretic, Galactagogue, Hypolipidemic, Nervine Tonic, Nutritive, Vasodilator, Vulnerary (Demulcent & Emollient)­

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Many herbal professionals would agree there are no problems with using oatstraw or milky oats, In theory, caution should be exercised with those who are celiac or have a recognized gluten sensitivity. While oats do not contain gluten, those with Celiac disease or gluten allergies must take care to verify the oats they select are not cross-contaminated in a facility that processes other gluten-containing grains.

Milky Oats

ABOUT: ‘Milky oats’ are the premature oat that has not yet formed a seed. When harvested at the right time the premature green seed head can be squeezed and a sticky whitish “milk” will be released.

The ‘oat straw’ is the grassy stalk of the plant that should be harvested while the oats are in the milky oats stage.

As food, oats are the seed of the mature plant that is harvested for food commonly called oatmeal or baked and added to granola or muesli. Oatmeal is a calcium channel blocker that helps to lower blood pressure. When soaked and strained the oat ‘milk’ can be consumed as a beverage or medicinally added to bath water to soothe skin conditions or applied topically to soothe skin conditions including contact dermatitis, dryness, itching, rashes, eczema (weeping), and burns.

The most common herbal remedies are those made of the oatstraw infusion and of the milky oats tincture. Though they appear simple, one should not underestimate their healing potential. Oatstraw or milky oats should be considered remedies for most anyone at any time throughout life.

Oat Straw with Milky Oats

Oatstraw can help brighten one’s mood and lift depression by inhibiting the ability of monoamine oxide-B to break down a neurotransmitter called dopamine important for mood regulation. Oatstraw also keeps phosphodiesterase-4 from causing inflammation often connected to anxiety and depression. Additionally, oatstraw increases focus through vasodilation, therefore, it may be beneficial for those with ADHD.

Oatstraw infusion is supportive of those suffering from bed-wetting, boils, flu, coughs, bladder issues, joint pain and rheumatic complaints, exhaustion, frostbite, gall bladder issues, gout, heart and/or liver issues, impetigo, lung weakness, nervous conditions, sexual debility, etc.

Ayurvedic practitioners have used a decoction of Avena sativa as an elixir for opium addiction and noticed that certain people also have found it supportive for smoking cessation.1 While this may be controversial, it is not surprising that addictions stemming from anxiety may be helped by this gentle, yet powerful nervous system trophorestorative.

To make an oatstraw infusion, place 1/4 cup of chopped organic oatstraw into a mason jar. Fill the jar with steaming hot/boiling water and cover. To extract all the minerals, allow the infusion to set overnight for a minimum of 8 hours. Then strain and drink. Keep refrigerated for up to three days. An adult may consume one cup up to three times per day.

Oatstraw tea is even safe for infants (in small doses), children, women who are pregnant or menopausal, the elderly, the convalescing and in just about every life-stage and condition of health.

The milky oats of the oat plant are made into a tincture. It must be done at the premature milky stage of the oat seed. The best tinctures are made using a very high-percentage alcohol solvent as this is necessary to extract the milky white latex exudate from the immature seed.

Milky oats is a traditional remedy used to support and restore the nervous system. especially after long periods of prolonged stress The tincture would likely be faster-acting and more appropriate in an acute situation. Old-time practitioners used milky oats tincture to promote healthy heart and nerve function as well as to encourage healthy sleep patterns, An adult dose of milky oats tincture ranges from 20-40 drops 3 or more times per day.